I guess emotion can lift a team to victory, as it looked like it was just enough for the Saints on Saturday night as they beat the Eagles 27-24 in the SuperDome to get them to within one game of the Super Bowl. They overcame a fiesty Eagles team that used a bunch of big plays and a never give up effort from QB Jeff Garcia, who deserves a ton of credit for getting the Eagles to where they were Saturday night.
This night belonged to the Saints though, as their defense did just enough, and the running combo of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush were solid against an Eagles defense that seemed to miss quite a few tackles. Drew Brees was also carefull with the ball, not allowing a pick and able to make some big pass plays to rally the Saints back after they trailed 21-13 in the early stages of the third quarter. From that point, the Saints used ball control with McAllister and Bush and outscored the Eagles 14-3 to win the divisional matchup.
435 yards of offense for the Saints was the key to the win. It was like the Saints of earlier this season, when Brees was making big plays and the running game was on fire. Saturday night they pulled out over 200 yards of rushing, and Brees’ 20-for-32 night passing helped enough to pull out the 3-point win. “This year, some things have happened for us and it’s like, wow, this may be destiny,” McAllister said. “It means everything,” Bush said. “All that stuff we went through as a team, these are the type of games we live for. And this game is even bigger for the city.”
The crowd also helped in the Saints efforts, as they were with the team every step of the way, even when they trailed by eight early in the third quarter. They were a big factor late when the Eagles got the ball back on a turnover when Bush mishandled a Brees pitch, and on third down when Garica made a big pass completion, it was waived off due to a false start. A penalty that could be directly a result of the noise in the dome.
Give the city and the crowd lots of credit for the win, as now the Saints, after losing 13 games a season ago, are 60 good football minutes away from a title. “I think it means a tremendous amount,” Brees said. “You could see it and feel it after the game, people still standing and yelling and screaming.” If the Seahawks can pull the upset on Sunday, you know that the Dome will even be louder for the NFC title game next Sunday. If not, you still know that this young scrappy bunch is going to give the Bears the fight of their life in Solider Field.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, the NFL Coach of the Year. “We just hope we can put a little kick in their step Monday and Tuesday, and give them something to look forward to next weekend.” They have already made it further than anyone thought they would, so at this point, I wouldn’t bet against them.